As Carson Wentz enters his fifth season in the NFL, expectations are sky-high. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Wentz has been given the sixth-best odds at +1700 to win the league MVP, tying him with Deshaun Watson.
While Wentz needs to come through as he moves into his prime, he also needs the team to have his back. Luckily, thanks to the overhaul the Eagles have made since their playoff loss, Wentz’s new toys on offense and coaches on the sideline could be a difference-maker for him.
Out with the old – In with the new
The biggest priority this offseason was giving more wide receivers to Carson Wentz, and the Eagles certainly tried their best. While they were quiet during free agency, they went all out during the draft, selecting Jalon Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins while trading for Marquise Goodwin.
There’s a clear as day strategy here. Fast guys equal big plays. Big plays equal what? Touchdowns.
At the combine, Reagor clocked a 4.47 time for the 40-yard dash, while Hightower and Watkins had times of 4.43 and 4.35, respectively. There’s no question that the Birds and Wentz were missing explosiveness last year, with DeSean Jackson having only played in three games.
Nelson Agholor was unable to take over the deep ball role due to his drops and inconsistency, capping off his fourth dud of a season in the five years since he was drafted. Meanwhile, Alshon Jeffery is far from the top target he was two years ago, and he has since become associated with drama more than catches.
Out of the group of new acquisitions, Reagor will be the one looked at to make an immediate impact. He gives Wentz another option that can spread the field while also carrying the ability to beat out traffic and make jump balls, as evident by his 42” vertical jump. Hightower and Watkins, still far from polished, represent much needed backups.
As for other wide receivers on the roster, it would be foolish to forget about Jackson and Jeffery, who could both provide Wentz with quality play barring health. Wentz has shown numerous times that he can manage to ball out with less-than-stellar talent on the field.
If the incoming young speedsters can play up to their potential talent, Wentz will have a much easier time airing it out and gaining huge yards.
Tough love for Carson Wentz
While the players on the field are ultimately the ones that make or break a team, a great coaching staff can be an extraordinary weapon.
Fans saw this to be true in 2017, when the dynamic duo of head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich helped to build an offense that finished seventh in the league in total yards and scored 457 points, good for third among all teams. Under Reich, Wentz had the best year of his career, throwing 33 touchdowns in 13 games before tearing his ACL.
After winning the Super Bowl, Reich was poached away by the Indianapolis Colts, and Pederson promoted wide receivers coach Mike Groh as the new offensive coordinator, a role he held in 2018 and 2019.
Groh’s influence on the team certainly left much to be desired. Among the many criticisms of Groh was his inability to integrate players into the system, as he bizarrely admitted was the case with trade acquisition Golden Tate. Groh was finally shown the door shortly after the season ended.
Instead of making a traditional offensive coordinator hire, the Eagles took a different route by splitting up duties among coaches. In February, the Eagles announced that Rich Scangarello was named as the senior offensive assistant, while Press Taylor was promoted to passing game coordinator in addition to quarterback coach. For the Eagles, outside coaching help was severely needed. Along with Scangarello comes different ideas and schemes.
Having previously coached under Kyle Shanahan, Scangarello was credited with having an impact on Drew Lock’s development during his stint in Denver.
Back in December, executives told The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Paul Domovitch that Wentz did well when former quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was pushing him. If Scangarello could fill the stricter role that DeFilippo had, it could be just the ingredient that Wentz needs to get back to his peak.
“I’m excited to see his insight and what he can bring to this offense, how we can become more explosive and more dynamic,” Wentz said on a virtual Zoom call with the media. “But what little I have talked to him, I can tell he’s a smart guy and he knows what he’s talking about.”
Carson Wentz MVP in 2020?
The biggest factor is Wentz himself, obviously. It all comes down to his play. Having his first full season since his rookie year is a nice confidence booster for fans worried about his health.
Wentz’s stats have been very consistent year in and year out, so if the coaching staff and players surrounding him can give him support, he should be well on his way to topping his would-be 2017 MVP season.